IELTS Reading: Dealing with Difficult Question Types (Part 2)
Image courtesy of poppet with a camera (CC Flickr)
In the earlier part, we discussed how best to answer an IELTS Reading question most people find difficult – identifying information (True/False/Not Given).
Let’s now look at another that many find hard – Matching headings to paragraphs.
Here, candidates are given a list of headings and a text with about 6 to 8 paragraphs (or sections). They have to identify the right heading for each paragraph.
Here’s a simplified version of this question type.
Elephants are gigantic creatures that can grow over 12 feet tall and weigh as much as 7 tonnes. They are herbivorous, feasting on vegetation such as leaves, twigs, roots, and grass. However, the quantities consumed are huge, and understandably so – an adult elephant needs about 150 kilos of food a day to survive. These large mammals may be broadly classified into two species – the African elephant and the Asian elephant. Though the African variety is slightly larger and wrinklier than its Asian counterpart, both are mammoth and possess brute strength. Their trunk, for example, can withstand weights of approximately 300 kilos.
Choose the correct heading for this paragraph from the list of headings below.
|List of Headings|
|i||Why African elephants are superior to their Asian cousins|
|ii||The might of elephants|
|iii||A varied diet and its benefits|
Tips to answer
This question type checks the test taker’s ability to differentiate main ideas from supporting ones, so you must learn to identify the main theme in a paragraph. Also, before choosing a heading, make sure the key words in it agree with the information in the paragraph.
The paragraph details the size and strength of elephants, so the correct heading is: ii – The might of elephants.
Although the text compares African and Asian elephants, the focus is on how both species are huge and strong, despite some physical differences. So, heading i is wrong. Similarly, there’s mention of the elephant’s diet, but it’s a supporting idea. Also, the text doesn’t talk about how elephants benefit from eating a variety of food, so heading iii is wrong.
Remember, identifying the central theme of a paragraph is the key to cracking this question type.
|differentiate (A from B)|
|Meaning||:||to understand that two things are not the same|
|Example||:||His paintings are so similar that I can’t differentiate one from another.|
|Meaning||:||to list all the information about something|
|Example||:||The article details how red wine is produced at our farm.|
|Meaning||:||the food and drink that a person or an animal eats regularly|
|Example||:||Micah’s dog is on a diet of brown bread and milk.|
|Meaning||:||to find a way to do something that is difficult|
|Example||:||The police are trying hard to crack the case of the missing boy.|